Common Dreams - May 30, 2020
Harvard University philosophy professor Dr. Cornell West appeared on CNN Friday night amid nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota and offered a searing indictment not just of white supremacy, the neo-fascism of President Donald Trump, and a criminal justice system that repeatedly brutalizes the poor and people of color—but also of a deep depravity that exists within the neoliberal capitalist system of the 21st Century in the United States that dominates both major political parties.
As protests raged in Minneapolis, outside Trump's White House, and U.S. cities nationwide—including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Cleveland, and Oakland—West told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview, "I think we are witnessing America as a failed social experiment."
"What I mean by that," explained West, "is that the history of black people for over 200 and some years in America has been looking at America's failure. Its capitalist economy could not generate and deliver in such a way that people could live lives of decency. The nation-state, it's criminal justice system, it's legal system could not generate protection of rights and liberties. And now our culture, of course is so market-driven—everything for sale, everybody for sale—it can't deliver the kind of nourishment for soul, for meaning, for purpose."
West explained the current anger over Floyd's murder by police—one of whom, officer Derek Chauvin, was arrested Friday and charged with 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter—adds to a "perfect storm" of multiple failures and inequities that pre-exist under an American imperial system that people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and others have been warning about since the middle of last century.
"When I saw those pictures there of Atlanta," West said, "you could see Brother Martin right there in Atlanta, saying: 'I told you about militarism. I told you about poverty. I told you about materialism. I told you about racism in all of its forms. I told you about xenophobia.' And what you're seeing in America is those chickens coming home to roost. You are reaping what you sow. And in this instant, you have Brother George—it is so clear—it was a lynching at the highest level. Nobody can deny it."
While solidarity protests erupted far beyond Minneapolis Friday night in outrage over Floyd's murder—and the killing by police of other black, brown, and other marginalized victims—West said, "I thank God people are in the streets. Can you imagine this kind of lynching taking place and people are indifferent? People don't care? People are callous?" ...
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